Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mash Day- OWN the Night

As you can tell, the blog has gotten a bit of a makeover. Unless you are looking at this post right after I publish it, in which case I haven't redecorated it yet and thank you for being such a devoted reader/robot: You get a gold star!
Everybody else, ignore the gold star. You don't deserve it.

Anywho...Summer Reading sign ups start Friday, June 1st. This year our theme is Own the Night, and we'll be bringing lots of night-timish funness, as well as some fabulous prizes you can earn for the reading you do this summer. Look below for some recommendations to get you started, stop by the children's or YA reference desks to sign up, and check out this hilarious take on William Golding's Lord of the Flies, brought to you by Teen Library Council:

And now for the actual Mash Day part of this Mash Day post. In mere days you will be off school, and you will have ample time to goof off. Well, you know, when you're not working, or mowing the lawn or whatever. Spend the summer catching up on your reading. We recommend these breezy books. They're quick, addictive reads through which wafts the gentle breath of evening summer. Well, that was poetic.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn: Y'all now I have to mention this book in every other blog post. It's not legally required or anything, I just really want you to read it. I swear neither Mr. Levithan or Ms. Cohn are compensating me in any way. So, Nick and Norah meet, kiss, argue, separate, re-unite, hook-up and stalk their favorite band throughout one eventful night in NYC. Sometimes, when you're just about to graduate and you meet someone who loves music almost as much as you do, you just have to fall in love, whether your exes will let you or not.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margi Stohl: Ethan's dreams provide the only modicum of excitement in his boring Southern town, but when the beautiful girl that haunts his dreams appears IRL, things begin to spice up.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray: A plane load of Miss Teen Dream USA contestants crash-lands on a deserted island. Some of them survive. Together they must figure out how to stay alive using the sequins, high heels and random parts that they can scavenge from the shattered airplane. They must also contend with giant snakes, evil corporations, volatile exploding make-up powder, and really hot pirates with very poor navigation skills. Sound like fun? 

There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff: What if God was a teenage guy who's mother won Earth in a poker game? What if he was completely unprepared to make and lead a planet, resulting in tragic mistakes, like famine, and happy accidents, like whales. What if teenage God keeps falling in love with human girls, leading to some of the planet's most cataclysmic events? Well, the weather may go nuts, sea life may raise from the ocean, and someone just may need to stage a coup in order to save humanity and prevent a perfectly lovely girl from getting her heart broken by a hapless deity.

The Pick-Up Game: A Full Day of Full Court edited by Marc Aronson: Various authors collaborated on this collection of stories chronicling a hot day of street ball in New York. Different characters weave in and out of these vivid stories that make you feel the vibrations of the ball pounding through the net and hear the drops of sweat plinking on the asphalt. 

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos: What did Jack do on his summer vacation? Well, he got his nostrils cauterized, cooked an old lady's arthritic hands in hot wax, investigated the suspicious deaths of a bunch of other old ladies, learned how to drive, and built a runway. And you thought you were busy.

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey: It's summer in the southern hemisphere, and when Charlie finds a body hanging from a eucalyptus one sultry evening, he has no idea what to do about it. The main suspect convinces him to team up so they can solve the crime, but Charlie's not sure he's made a wise alliance.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mash Day: Literary Events (Don't forget your towel!)

So, this Friday is May 25, and May 25 is entirely froody because it is Towel Day, and Towel Day is made of awesome because it is the day we celebrate the life of Douglas Adams and his hilarious literary creation The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which I may have mentioned once or twice on this blog. (And that is what we call a run-on sentence.)  Now, we carry our towels on Towel Day because Douglas Adams taught us that, as the creative folk at illustrate in the infographic above, a towel is the most useful object in the universe.

Towel Day may be the most delightfully silly of literary holidays, but it is certainly not the only one. We readers have conjured lots of opportunities to celebrate our favorite authors and revel in their books. If you're a Tolkien fan, you may want to celebrate Hobbit Day this September or the Fall of Sauron next March. If you find yourself feeling folksy this July, and you want to trick your friends into helping with a home improvement project, throw a National Tom Sawyer Days party and get your fence painted for free. get your rhyme on and celebrate Limerick Day on May 12, the birthday of the strange and nonsensical poet Edward Lear.

This is just a sampling, and if these holidays don't satisfy you, how about St. George's Day in Catalonia, Spain? In honor of the story of St. George and the Dragon, men give women roses and women give men books. I have it on good authority from a sweet Spanish friend that the street of Barcelona are filled with vendors selling roses and books, and it's quite the party. I want to go to there, don't you?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mash Day: Cinderella Two New Ways

Cinderella is one of those stories that has been told and retold a million ways throughout time. Many different cultures and storytellers have put their unique spin on the tale. From the bloody (in the version the Grimm brothers wrote down, the stepsisters mangle their own feet in order to fit into Cinderella's slipper) to the saccharine-sweet (Disney's fluttering bluebirds and singing mice, for instance) Cinderella's story has been told almost every way there is to tell.
Yeah, yeah, you think...Cinderella is kid stuff. Not so!
Here are two recent retellings of the Cinderella story that were written just for you.
Ash works as an indentured servant for her stepfamily, sneaking off when possible to roam the wild woods where an enchanted world still exists, regardless of the changing beliefs of the townspeople. There, Ash meets the enigmatic fairy Sidhean. Also while in the woods, Ash grows close to the King's Huntress, who captures Ash's heart. Magical and girl-love romantic, in a time long ago.

In a future world, Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing, which does not change the fact that she is a cyborg (with a few high tech components). Therefore, Cinder is under her stepmother's command, and is not catching any breaks. In fact, when Cinder's sister Peony comes down with the deadly plague that is sweeping the Earth, Cinder's stepmother reacts by volunteering Cinder as a test subject for antidote research (sure death, there.). Meanwhile, the loathed Lunar queen is antsy to either go to war with the Earth, or marry the handsome Prince Kai. Oh! And did I mention that Prince Kai and Cinder have met, and appear to be flirting? That's all fine and good, except that if Prince Kai finds out Cinder's a cyborg, it will be more than all over. Poor Cinder! How will it all end?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mash Day: Fare-thee-well, Maurice.

The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind...and another...

Sound familiar? That's the beginning of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, arguably the strangest yet most tender children's book ever written. Sendak wrote dozens of books, and all those stories share a common thread- They respect their audience. Sendak insisted that he didn't write children's books, he just wrote books that children happened to adore. He didn't talk down to his audience, and he insisted that kids can handle the gritty topics, in fact they do every day, and adults need to stop underestimating a child's resiliency. Just as important, adults need to start paying attention. Kids are constantly confronted by situations that they take on alone, because they feel they must or because they have no other option. If adults would just take the time to notice, they can help kids through traumatic situations, just by conveying their love, admiration, and support for these smart, incisive, courageous, honest and somewhat short people. Sendak didn't believe in the myth of childhood innocence. To him, kids know it all, can handle anything and tell it like it is, to use a few trite cliches.

Sendak's books were astronomically popular, but they were also controversial. In the Night Kitchen, for instance, has been repeatedly banned or challenged. Those who have challenged it have sited several reasons why they don't believe it is appropriate, including, most often, nudity. My favorite justification for its banning is that, according to some, it's just too weird. Nothing can recommend a book to me more than hearing that it's too weird. Thus, I love Mickey.The milk is in me too!

Adults seem to find Sendak's books alarming, and I understand that. His stories distress me because they inevitably involve children on their own dealing with dangerous and impossible situations. The thing is, Sendak is holding up a mirror, and that is what is making us uncomfortable. The fact is, kids do deal with impossible and dangerous situations every day without the guidance of adults. Either out of neglect or necessity, grown-ups may not even notice while kids triumph over or struggle with challenges that seem way beyond their developmental skills. Sendak's books remind us to pay attention, be impressed, and help when we can.

So, now that our Maurice is gone, the memories are flooding the Internet and the daily discourse of us library types. I don't think any kid who's grown up in the past 50 years had escaped his influence, and I don't know why they would want to. Here's a collection of some of these lovely thoughts and a few of Sendak's intense and honest contributions:

Stephen Colbert interviews Maurice Sendak for the Colbert Report, and yes it is genius:

A collection of artistic tributes to Where the Wild Things Are
(Via, along with the next link, Bookshelves of Doom)

A PG-13 conversation between Sendak and Art Spiegelman, illustrated by the latter:

A heart-felt tribute from Carson Ellis

And what about you? Please share your memories of Maurice in the comments.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mash Day: Die Laughing.

Back in December Lisa put up a display in the YA room that was all about Perfect Pairs: books that go well together.
I have recently discovered the ultimate perfect pair. These books are so well matched, they could go and get married, or whatever. Here's why:
They are both drop dead hilarious.
In Croak, Lex's wildly antisocial behavior gets her sent to live for the summer with her uncle, who lives in a tiny town at the edge of nowhere. Upon arrival, Lex discovers that instead of milking cows, she will be part of a team that releases and culls the souls of dead people. Yes, she is a grim reaper in training. While her new line of work is a bit much to stomach, Lex realizes that, for the first time in her life, she is making friends and having fun. But all is not well in Death-land. Almost as soon as Lex arrives on the scene, a string of unexplainable deaths begin to occur. Can Lex and her band of snarky teenage reapers solve this mystery...?

Sam's another deadbeat youth who suddenly discovers he has hidden talents. After some rough-em-up action (and some conversations with the head of his previously alive, now beheaded perky co-worker) Sam has no choice but to accept the fact that his true career path lies in Necromancy. Throw in some werewolves, fighting lawn statues, and lots of witty references to classic rock songs, and you've got a winner! Hold Me Closer Necromancer.
Perhaps you, too, can see the eeriness in the similarity of these books. Perhaps you may be interested in reading them. So happy reaping, I mean, reading! And watch your back.



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